How World Of Warcraft Has Evolved

How World Of Warcraft Has Evolved

World of Warcraft set the standard for MMORPGs in 2004 and set the stage for the modern MMO. Its subscriber numbers have faltered, but most games still wish they had a fraction of WoW’s success. Today, we’re taking a look at how the game has evolved over time and how it stacks up to the shadow of its former self.

The Contenders

When World of Warcraft (or WoW) first came out in November of 2004, it was a very different game than it is today. Rather than releasing “World of Warcraft 2” or “WoW: 3”, Blizzard adds expansions that extend the game’s story and add new features. You likely know all of this already, but it creates an interesting dynamic where the current WoW exists in the same place as its predecessors. Legion will be the game’s sixth expansion in twelve years. But are WoW’s best days behind it, or here, right now? Here’s how we’re breaking it down:

To cover as much as possible, I’ve been checking out the Legion beta for a few weeks and I’ve spent time revisiting vanilla WoW via some less-than-official channels (please don’t ban me, Blizzard). However, WoW is huge. Part of the beauty of this game is that everyone can have a different experience in the same world. Be sure to share your own experiences at the end. You can also check out Kotaku’s in-depth tour through all the old expansions here.

WoW Used to Feel More Massive Than It Does Now

Blizzard chose the name World of Warcraft for a very specific reason. When you first start to explore the game, it feels massive. Each race has its own starting zone with a cluster of quests that exist in your own little neighbourhood. You have to run painfully slowly from one village to another. By the time you reach the nearest capital city, you think that it couldn’t possibly be any bigger. This is it. This is the big end goal of the entire game.

Except it doesn’t end there. Pick any direction not over an ocean and you can just keep wandering forever. When you take your first flight from one city to another, it starts to sink in. This really is a world. You could walk from one end of a continent to another if you wanted. Best of all, each area is riddled with quests, characters, and things to do. If you want to level up one night elf character by trekking from the capital city of Darnassus across Kalimdor, you can do that. Then you can start a whole new dwarf character who resides in Ironforge and wander across the Eastern Kingdoms without seeing a single thing your night elf saw.

The first couple of times you level a character like this, it’s exhilarating. When you’re on your tenth character, it’s not nearly as fun. So over time Blizzard has added things that make travelling across the world easier. You can use your hearthstone to teleport back to a single home location. In Burning Crusade, Blizzard added flying in the new continents. In Cataclysm, they added flying everywhere. Cata also added a cluster of portals in major cities like Stormwind and Orgrimmar to destinations all over the game world. In a way, Cata was a turning point where the feature creep started to boil over.

Nowadays, you can hop on your flying mount to bypass any inconvenient mountain. The Group Finder tools made it progressively easier to find other players to play with. When you want to join a dungeon or raid, the Group Finder will just teleport you there. A lot of this is functional, making it easy for people to traverse long distances, meet up with friends quickly, and help other players.

By the time you get to Legion however, all these additions have added up to a big world that feels really small. It only takes a few minutes to get across WoW’s giant continents. It’s no harder to run dungeons with someone on the other side of the planet than it is to play with someone in the same city as you. Blizzard tries to deal with this by disabling flying in the new continents you visit, but it only goes so far. The new Broken Isles area in Legion is beautiful, but it never quite captures that same sense of grandeur.

This change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Walking everywhere is tedious and it can take away from actually playing the game. On the other hand, when you can teleport all over the planet, breeze past the scenery at 300% speed, and ignore most of the little details, it starts can start to feel like Legion could just be its own game, rather than part of an ever-expanding world. While new players still have to do a bit of work at low levels, it’s impossible for anyone to go back and really feel that same restricting sense of a world too big for your character.

Old WoW Was a Harder Grind, But With Better Rewards

In vanilla WoW, you progressed from level 1 to 60, at which point you’d hit the level cap. It took months. Blizzard wasn’t building massive virtual continents for nothing. If you wanted to reach the top level, you had to work for it. The game always had a strong focus on what it calls “end game content” (stuff you play once you reach the level cap) but in classic WoW, early questing mattered.

After grinding away for months to get up to the level cap, you finally received your just reward: more grinding. Dungeons and raids offered new and bigger challenges featuring grandiose characters from the Warcraft RTS series. This trend continued through the game’s early expansions. One of the most incredible moments in WoW history came during Wrath of the Lich King when you climbed the steps of Icecrown Citadel, and fought your way past eleven raid bosses to slay the Lich King Arthas. It was a hard battle. Depending on your group, it could’ve taken weeks or months to get there. It was worth it.

Blizzard rewarded that kind of dedication. The early expansions were packed with legendary weapons that were incredibly rare. Raid groups of forty people would get together to take down powerful bosses for the chance at getting a weapon that only one person could use. These were incredible moments of teamwork. Those rare few who won their hard-earned trophies carried them with pride.

In Legion, literally everyone is given a legendary weapon right at the beginning. It’s…pretty underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, the legendary weapons are cool, and it’s fun to explore the lore (we’ll come back to that.) But having a team of NPCs all agreeing that you’re the chosen one who deserves this unspeakably powerful weapon that every other player is also using starts to feel a tad cheesy.

Yeah, and maybe a random guard in Whiterun is the Dragonborn. He just doesn’t know it yet. One example where this gets really weird is for shamans. One of your artifact weapons in Legion is the mighty Doomhammer, an item with a ton of history and in-game lore behind it. This weapon has been used by Orgrim and Thrall, two of the most important figures in Warcraft history. It even appears in the Warcraft movie being carried by Orgrim, who is gigantic and covered in muscles. Above, you can see my tiny dwarf carrying it like it belongs there, or something. This is a bit like giving some teenager Captain America’s shield. When you receive the Doomhammer, Thrall tells you that you’re already more powerful than he is with it. Even though he literally killed Deathwing.

When you’re already a legendary hero at the start, it gets a little difficult to take any challenges seriously. WoW has also made it easier to raid without having a guild, so you could feasibly play without ever working with friends over the long-term. You get a lot of cool stuff, but it’s not as hard to earn it. That hard work leads to a sense of satisfaction. Without the grind, the rewards can feel cheap or meaningless. When everyone’s super, no one is.

Legion Is the Most Accessible The Game Has Ever Been

World of Warcraft Showdown: Then vs. Now

Hanging out with Malfurion in one of the starting zones in Legion. If you’ve never played WoW before, this may be the best possible time to join. All those changes that have “watered down” the classic WoW experience also make it easier for newcomers to join in the story where it’s at now. You get a free boost to level 100 by purchasing Legion. If you don’t have time to join a guild and raid a few times a week, you can just hop into the Group Finder to join with strangers.

The classes have also been simplified a lot since the early days. In vanilla WoW, you had to collect ammunition for your weapons, learn complex talent trees, and study the text of quest logs to figure out where you’re going in a huge world. If you wanted to join a guild or run dungeons with friends, you needed to install add-ons, read forums, and prove you could handle the pressure. Now, talents are much simpler, an organised quest log points you in the right direction, and no more ammo.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily make the game simple. Just simpler. You’ll still grind for hours collecting pelts and herbs, killing mobs, and digging through poop. You should still study the mechanics on raid bosses, which isn’t easy. New players won’t be able to just walk in to fight Xavius in the Emerald Nightmare and expect to do well. Heck, new players probably can’t be expected to know what half the words in that guide mean (or this one, really,) or even what the “Emerald Nightmare” actually is. There’s a lot of learning new players need to do and raid boss mechanics are still ridiculously complicated.

If you want to try to move on to higher difficulty levels, Blizzard still lets you do that. Heroic and Mythic versions of dungeons and raids offer tougher challenges, better rewards, and require a lot more coordination. The only difference is that now players have a more clearly laid out path to get there.

Blizzard’s Finally Getting the Hang of Telling Stories

If you didn’t have time to join a guild and progress through huge raids in the old days of WoW, you didn’t get to see the real story of the game. I ran into this problem when I started Cataclysm. The giant black dragon Deathwing was destroying the world. I wanted to know how this story ends. This was also the time I was working 80+ hours a week and raiding was not a possibility. To this day I still haven’t gone back to finally kill Deathwing. Old raids were even harder. If you wanted to take down Illidan at the Black Temple or slay Arthas at Icecrown Citadel, you better have some free time on your hands. These guys were their expansions primary antagonists and if you weren’t raiding, you never saw them.

In Legion, that entire dynamic is turned upside down. The opening sequences carry you through a series of scripted scenarios with voice acting, character interactions, and a better look into what’s going on in the world around you. You’ll meet the big baddie Gul’dan at the start of the Demon Hunter quest line. If you’re playing now during the pre-launch demon invasions, you can team up with everyone else on your server to take down massive raid bosses just wandering around the starting zone. The group finder also means that since you can hop into a raid with strangers, you’re not locked out of the final story if you can’t “git gud.” It will be tough and some jerks might complain, but it’s easy mode. They will live.

Your character is also more important to the story. In classic WoW, you’re a peon with no skills killing random boars in the forest to bring meat to a local villager. In Legion, you are the grandmaster in charge of your entire class. Yes, every player is roleplaying the guy in charge of all the other players in their class. It’s…weird.

This approach draws you into the story, though. For example, my mage in Legion will be rebuilding the Hall of the Guardian. For most of my WoW experience, I didn’t really know what the Guardian was. In fact, I only learned about it from the Warcraft movie. While I was busy missing out on all the high-level content in earlier WoW expansions, I missed those mythical elements. Now, Legion has you face-to-face with the characters throughout the entire expansion, not just at the very end in raids. Sometimes it feels like it’s forcing you into an all-powerful hero role, but it means you feel less disconnected.

So far, this has done more good than harm. Warcraft has incredibly rich lore and Legion is using its new features as a way to connect players with it directly. Maybe it’s a bit cheesy to make your character the Chosen One, but that framing device allows you to explore the various factions and characters in the Warcraft universe on a more intimate level.

World of Warcraft isn’t the same game that it used to be and — barring some massive legacy server project — it never will be officially. What we have now, however, isn’t bad. Blizzard has stumbled some in recent years. While I had some fun with Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor, each of those expansions felt like weird offshoots of WoW, not a central part of a bigger story.

Legion is a return to WoW’s roots while keeping a lot of the best elements that Blizzard has refined over the years. From a lore perspective, we get to see the return of some major characters with fresh eyes (as a side note, I highly recommend reading the Illidan book as backstory for the new demon hunters). We get new weapons, new challenges, and much better ways of experiencing this massive story. Despite the updates and tweaks, the game we have now looks pretty good. However, old players and new ones alike can at least share a sentiment over the one thing that hasn’t changed in all the years WoW has existed:

World of Warcraft Showdown: Then vs. Now

Fuck these boats.

This story originally appeared on Lifehacker


  • Clearly not a wow fan. Pandaria is agreed to be one of the best expansions. None of the others had a moving story that had such massive changes on the world itself.

    I wouldn’t say legion is better than pandaria, but it’s hard to tell without seeing how many and the types of content patches that are coming out. Noting that 7.1 is just rehashed content with a few things thrown on the side which isn’t a good sign. The writing in legion has been atrocious so far as well.

    • The writing in legion has been atrocious so far as well.

      The writing in Legion has been universally praised. It has some of the best storytelling they’ve done to date, along with Mists and Wrath.

      • Well those people are bad and should feel bad. It’s some of the corniest writing I’ve seen to date. Remember a ton of people think Batman vs Superman is a good movie too. There’s a lowest common denominator out there.

        • Batman v Superman was panned by both critics and audience. Legion has so far been praised by both. I think the writing is excellent, personally.

          • I’ve never seen you say a bad thing about WoW. You’re one of the classic-haters. It’s hard to take your opinion as being open-minded, (Not meant to be a slight – I just think it’s fair to say that early WoW, and recent WoW, are extremely different games. Most fans seem polarised one way or the other).

            It seems that, if you like the direction that WoW has been taking since Cataclysm, then you’ll probably like Legion.

          • Well I mean story barely existed till Wotlk. Cata and mop were good. Legion gameplay wise is similar, but I think the writing has taken a dive since Warlords even tho legion is a better game gameplay wise, the writing is still tacky. (I know u were talking to the other guy fyi)

          • I liked the game in vanilla, I like the game now. I don’t like every change they’ve made but I don’t see a reason to let the 10% of things I don’t like sour the 90% of things I do.

          • Vanilla was good for its time. Story was not a heavy element though. Not as an entirety anyway. Things like aq were good. But things did get consistently better till Wotlk. The story in cata had no real progression over the patches, just Mini bosses till big bad deathwing.

            Mop I consider the story pinicle of wow writing. Wotlk was good but also relatively already set out in wc3. Pandaria really showed you the effects of the war on a neutral nation and their land as well as developing wows arguably, first three dimensional villan.

          • Cata’s best feature was the zone redesigns. Most of the good story development they did was actually in there, not in the new zones which felt small and disconnected. It was an expansion based around the old world revamp that sadly a lot of people didn’t experience because they were already max level. I felt Cata was the weakest of the expansions.

            Wrath, Mists and Legion so far (I know you disagree) are their biggest strengths in storytelling. Until I’ve had a chance to experience more of Legion, Mists remains my favourite expansion to date but Legion has gotten off to an excellent start, probably better at this point than any of the previous expansions were at the same point. Warlords wasn’t a bad expansion in terms of what we were given, it was mostly a let down in terms of what we weren’t given.

            Overall my personal ratings for the game (excluding Legion) are Mists > Wrath > Vanilla = TBC > Warlords > Cata. TBC improved on vanilla in several areas but lost points for some of the worst grinds in the game’s history.

          • Cant reply further to your comment, but I pretty much agree with what you said.
            I did actually make a char and play through a lot of the rehashed 1-60 content in cata, it was really good.

    • Noting that 7.1 is just rehashed content with a few things thrown on the side which isn’t a good sign.

      It’s a return to Karazhan, yes, but if you watch the trailer you’ll see it’s us going to new areas there, including the much desired mirrored part underneth. It’s also extending the Siramar plot and adding a new 3 boss raid that’ll wrap up the story with Odyn and Helia. Considering Bliz’s habit of forgetting plot points (naga abducting Neptulin) it’s a very welcome patch.

      Better than the Selfie Patch of WoD.

      • The Neptulon storyline wasn’t forgotten but it was abandoned. They planned to wrap it up with the Abyssal Maw raid, but they weren’t able to get the raid at the standard of quality they wanted so they ended up dropping it.

    • But the “World” of WarCraft was dead for many of us long before Mists. And Mists didn’t no enough to get that back.

      Granted, I’d personally put it on par with WoTLK, but behind Vanilla and TBC.

      • If we are talking about gameplay, I think the reason cata failed was because it tries to do tbc heroics again. People just generally arnt as hardcore as they were back in vanilla or tbc. Being a casual in vanilla would have sucked. There was absolutely nothing to do, besides like… Silithus dailies?

        Tbc was completely broken spec wise. No way was I taking anyone who wasn’t a Mage, sub Rogue, warlock or Hunter on a heroic dungeons run. I remember nobody even played most of the heroics because Kara was easier. The blood elf daily hub was fun though, I think it was the decent daily hub that wow did.

    • So much anecdote as evidence in your comment. As long as we’re sharing opinions as fact, I have been playing since vanilla, didn’t enjoy MoP and have been loving Legion.

      • Sure. But just talking about the story. MoP had an evolution of a story across the entire zone and created a villian with more than just one dimensional. Legion has uh… Collect stuff to stop the big bad who is bad for no reason.

        Gameplay wise. I don’t think there’s any real diff besides daily quests. Mythic 5 mans are just heroics with cc.

        • I have to disagree with pretty much everything you said.

          Although Sargeras is pretty much as stereotypical an ultimate bad guy can be (and it’s actually debatable if or in what form he will even appear in Legion), his motivations are arguably somewhat noble. And in terms of the story unfolding over entire zones, this is an extended story that is literally spanning multiple XPs.

          Mythics with the mechanics unlocked via the escalating keystone levels scale up in a way that may eventually become even more difficult than raiding.

  • Why would you gloss over Mists? When people say “But Pandas!” they forget that they were one of the asked for races prior to Burning Legion with everyone mystified by the retconned Eradar space goats.

    And Mists brought the best story driven campaign, rivalling Wrath …. which really got over the line because it wrapped up the Arthas story. Blizzard is using quite a few ideas from Mists …. for example the weekly episodic story from Isle of Thunder in the upcoming Suramar story.

    And have people forgotten how primitive vanilla was? Or the heavily gated raids in BC? There’s a lot of rose-colored glasses action happening here.

    Oh … and WoD can be best forgotten. A lot of good experimental ideas, but it was all pretty pointless in the end.

    • This story popped up on one of the sister sites, I put a few comments there, but in short, I just returned to WoW after leaving some time around BC. I remember the vanilla game, with only a handful of meaningful raids, and stuttered content as well. It was primative for the first couple of years, thankfully it got a LOT better. The cut from 40 man to 20 man raids in BC was what did it for me at the time.

      Coming back into it, its clear there have been quite a few changes that effected the game world. Without going into a massive post, the biggest issue I had was that none of the old content is presented as an option to you.

      When the game works to push you around that content, its hard to rate its relevance. I went looking for myself with a demon hunter, because I wanted to see for myself how the game had changed, but the game didnt make it easy. There was no direction to any of it. Hell, Pandara was hidden behind an innocuous grey quest on a mission board. Draenor was just as hidden.

      Nothing gets explained ingame once the content has moved on, so theres no connection from one to the other. Even something small like battlepets are just sitting there with no clue where to start, and thats the point – how do you start the content if you’ve bypassed it?

      • There’s plenty of consistency and drive in the old world zone stories, the reason you might have had trouble finding it is because you were looking on a demon hunter. When you’re at the appropriate level for those zones there’s a lot of guidance, breadcrumbs from the capital cities to appropriate level zones and clear paths from one zone to the next in several areas. You won’t get any of that as a demon hunter because you’re far overlevel so they assume you don’t need any of that guidance so it’s not offered. If you want to go through the full experience, start from level 1.

        If you do insist on doing it on the demon hunter though, it’s simple enough. Turn on low level quest tracking, go to your 5-10 zone of choice (Durotar, Mulgore, Tirisfal Glades, Eversong Woods; Elwynn Forest, Dun Morogh, Teldrassil, Azuremyst Isles), head to the main town in that area and pick up all the quests that are there. They’ll give you enough of a seed to start off and they will always refer you to the next zone when you’re done with that one.

        • Hmm… my reply didnt post. I wasnt complete in what I said, but in effect all I’m saying is that doesnt happen. I played a panda hunter to 66 in the invasions, and more than once during that, when I went looking for other things to do I was blocked from getting somewhere, either through changes in geography (presuming cataclysm is responsible for that big hole in Stranglethorn, or Thousand Needles being flooded), or some other event.

          At the end of the invasions, the adventure guide was sending me to Nagrand in BC, which was the right level range (and broadly where I left the game last time), but nothing to tell me where the portal was. Last I knew, it was in Badlands, but I knew that had changed.

          And in the end, I didnt want to go back to the start (note: Panda, not a regular Alliance race, so I was lvl 12 or so before I even got to Stormwind) and grind through 30 zones, just to get told I’d been walking past the portal in the mages tower the whole time.

          I missed triggers for whatever reason, but in the end felt punished for it. All I wanted was those continents to simply be opened, and it needed me to go outside the game to find those triggers. They werent hard, but in the end I came away feeling like Blizzard just had zero care in people playing the old content now, and all they wanted was for people to get to Legion.

          I also play with low level quest tracking on as well. I know the zone is grey, but if I want to detour and play a bit of content, I dont mind that.

          • The Hero’s Call Board (and its Horde equivalent, Warchief’s Command Board) offers breadcrumbs through the entire leveling experience. Hero’s Call: Outland! would have been the one you were after, with instructions on where you need to go in the quest text.

            These should show up while you’re in your capital with low level quest tracking on, and there’s a few of the boards scattered throughout Orgrimmar and Stormwind. These things are pretty much designed for what you described, where you’ve skipped some areas or content by leveling through other means and need to know where to pick up.

          • And again, thats not explained. Its all well and good to be told now, but it shouldnt need a player to go to some random web forum to find out what should be explained in game.

            This isnt meant to be a gripe, its feedback that the game could do a better job. Tucking away those starters on a mission board, in a corner of Stormwind I really have no reason to go to, isnt the most intuitive way to guide a player to new content.

            Its great to know now thats the purpose of that board, but the game didnt tell me that. When all I want is to open those areas up to wander through and have a look, it shouldnt be assumed I know what to do.

            And even with low level quest tracking on, and before I jumped into the Demon Hunter, it was an issue. The adventure guide suggests places to go, with no advice how to get there. It assumes you know how to get to Feralas, or BC, or (I presume later) the other expansion zones.

            I’m looking at this effectively from the eyes of a newbie, and what the game tells you is very short on quidance unless you follow the breadcrumbs from level 1.

          • Sure, I understand. The way you leveled was a little out of the ordinary path since you used invasions (which gave ludicrous XP), but it could be made a bit more obvious. I’m sorry you had a hard time with it, hopefully if you do keep playing you’ll see how much they’ve improved the overall experience of traversing the leveling zones.

          • Thats the silly thing, it wasnt THAT hard a time, mostly because I already knew where to look. I was caught out a few times on how the geography changed, but put that down to a good thing. Who knew thousand needles had flooded… 🙂

            It was the fact that it got it almost right ingame, and didnt need much to make it so much simpler for a new or returning player.

            I’m enjoying what I’m seeing though and for now, I’m enjoying the demon hunter. Will see how I go by the end of the month though, and whether I sub or not. I can get bored easily.

      • Yeah I imagine it’s a bit confusing coming back.
        Ive played pretty consistently from vanilla and therefore nothing really throws me out lol.

        Id focus on doing dungeons, world quests and finishing off the new zone quest chains atm before trying anything else.

        But yeah I agree the zones in legion are quite fragmented story wise with only the last thing in each really being a tie in to the story. It’s ok. It’s not as good as MoP or Wotlk.

    • Why would you gloss over Mists?

      I’m more confused as to why they put Vanilla Wow and Cata – the latter changing almost everything about Vanilla Wow’s areas – together as “Classic Wow”

  • Yeah, too many have rose goggles regarding Vanilla WoW imo. Actual, pre expansions Vanilla. At the time it was great but taking 6+months to level up your toon on bland, grindy quests with no storyline in sight only to be gated out of the endgame content because you can’t spend every moment of your free time on it? No-one has the patience for that crap nowadays, especially the people who already did that back in the day and who make up most of the playerbase.
    Massive, take your time worlds are best as a singleplayer experiance imo, which is how a whole lot of people ended up playing Vanilla.
    Modern WoW does what an mmo should – make it easy to play group content with other people, without resorting to external forums and tools. End game in Vanilla was like Destiny Raiding is but needing 40 bloody people half a day to spare.
    And, as you said, now WoW expansions have a story, often a good one.
    And, possibly most important: new or returning players can jump right in. Imagine if each expansion was like vanilla – WoW would have died years ago because no-one have time for that.

  • Also, give WoD some credit. The 90-100 stuff was great and the initial endgame wasn’t bad. Things just went to poop after that.

    • the questing was great the first time, I found it so hard to go back and do it again on alts to get them through it though.

  • Haven’t played it since BC days, decided on a whim to sub for a month and see what’s new. After taking three months to get to level 45 back then before quitting out of boredom, I was expecting it to be slightly improved, but still be relatively slow going… I got my new character to 28 in two days. The “new” (probably not-so-new, but no idea when it was added) way that quest objectives are displayed and mapped out, the ability to get a mount at level 20 for a paltry sum (I may be misremembering, but the only mounts I saw back in BC were level 40+ and 50g+ – way out of my price range at the time)… it certainly looks to have come a long way.

  • That hard work leads to a sense of satisfaction. Without the grind, the rewards can feel cheap or meaningless.

    This has been my feeling toward WOW for some time. There’s no doubt that going back to Vanilla now would be tedious and grindy, but at the same time getting spoonfed everything isn’t rewarding, and adding shinies just makes it like pokies.

    Another article (I can’t remember if it was here or elsewhere) summed it up by saying that Blizzard has done a great job of removing the MMO and upping the RPG. From MoP onwards the crafted stories and questing has been a huge step forward (and I’m led to believe Legion even moreso), but the MMO side is basically dead.

    These are not necessarily bad things, but i havent had a true sense of challenge/reward since WotLK aside from defeating the Brawlers guild.

    • i havent had a true sense of challenge/reward since WotLK

      By design or by choice? Did you run heroic/mythic/challenge mode content in Mists and Warlords?

      • A little of both to be fair. I didn’t run any of the harder difficulty content due to not having the time commitment to seriously raid anymore, and virtually all of my friends have stopped playing leading to it being a much more singleplayer experience. That’s kind of the point though, the early stuff was still challenging/rewarding outside of the highest tiers, getting an epic mount in Vanilla, or getting your fast flying in BC was a pretty big deal.

        • To be honest, it sounds like what you want has become more specific over the years, that rather than the game not offering challenging content for you, it’s that it doesn’t offer it in the specific way that you’re now able to consume that content. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is an individual thing. I used to raid bleeding edge in vanilla and TBC but I just can’t do it any more, it takes too much out of me. I still push heroic and some mythic but we’re nowhere near world top 100 any more.

          I find there’s still a good range of difficulty available in content in the game. Dungeons effectively have infinite difficulties now, with normal, heroic, mythic and increasing levels of mythic+. Raid difficulty is also fairly broad since the introduction of flexible raid sizes, though it still requires a decent time investment. The new world quests vary in difficulty as well.

  • “The giant black dragon Deathwing was destroying the world. I wanted to know how this story ends. This was also the time I was working 80+ hours a week and raiding was not a possibility.”

    Yes it was! Dragon Soul was the first raid ever to be available in Raid Finder, and you would’ve been able to see the story without needing a guild or organise your own raid. However, maybe that came after you stopped playing?

  • I was a raid leader through Vanilla and BC but lost interest in the game after that. Each expansion I purchased and spent a month or two playing but I just don’t feel it any more.

    I think the thing that made Vanilla so special was that it was brand new. Like the article says, it was this massive world. I spent the beta running around the Orc starting zones and fell in love with the game. When the game was released I rolled a Dwarf Hunter, slowly levelled up to 60 enjoying the story on the way, joined a raid guild and loved every minute of it. Eventually I started levelling an Orc hunter to try out the Horde side, made some new friends and we eventually maxed out, formed a raid guild and started raiding.

    Then when BC came out it was a breath of fresh air. By that stage I could run through any zone blind folded and know exactly where I was. I could detail every scenario that would happen on any raid boss. It was all just a little tired. BC was massive. New zones, new adventures. By that stage though I no longer cared about the story. I enjoyed the new environments but my head just kept telling me to ignore it and power level. It was a bad mentality I had programmed into myself.

    Then came the guild politics, guild mergers, changes in leaderships, people posting about how other guild members had ruined their lives. I sat there thinking to myself “This is a game and people want to kill each other ’cause they were left out of a raid or didn’t get some crappy imaginary weapon”

    That was pretty much it for me. As I said I still buy every expansion and give it a run but it just reminds me of the monster that emerged out of the game. Not one that I ever want to see again.

  • A great game let down by its players (kids. elitists. FOTM, carrys, cookiecutter)
    I play games for fun not drama, and the absolute swarm of players returning has created a toxic community again.
    I’ll play again once everyone has left and the regulars are still around.

  • I’m an original day 1 Frostmourne vanilla player and played all the way through to end of WoTLK in one of the better Oceanic guilds. It was absolutely fucking intense the level of commitment you had to have in order to be able to maintain your spot in the main raiding party, else being relegated to the backup group. I’ve played a Hunter as my main toon for the entirety of the game and have dabbled in other classes as well (rogue, warrior) but always went back to the hunter. The best quest I’ve ever done in the game, was the epic Hunter quest line for Rhok/Lok’delar (bow and staff). This quest took a SHITLOAD of time to complete. Having to collect a drop which you had to roll DKP for in Molten Core. Then another from Onyxia. Then you had to go around and kill 4 different bosses each with their own set of weaknesses (kiting a demon through Winterspring, duelling a demon at hte base of Blackrock with melee weapons only etc) was nuts and took a lot of preparation in order to complete, but fuck me the feeling of accomplishment when I had finally completed the quest was insanely good. And that’s one of the things that’s saddened me since then, is the complete lack of anything that was this epic. I still have them in my pack and usually transmog anything I’m using to look like them as well as I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

    Having said all that though, as I’ve gotten older and now have 2 kids, I am a lot more agreeable with the current style of gameplay. I really do not have the time to be able to sit down for hours on end and just raid until the early hours of the morning, my wife would just as soon divorce me I’m sure! But the ability to be able to get into a group/raid without having to wait around for a while to ensure all guild members are online and ready to go, is a big relief. I feel like I paid my dues in the early days and now I get to enjoy the newer content with a lot more flexibility to the way my life allows me to play. The fact that I was practically handed the legendary weapon at the start of the new expansion was rather hilarious though considering all the time and effort I put into Rhok/Lok back in the day, the quest was so bloody easy it was completed within minutes, and then the successive quests to obtain the other various versions for my primary class.

    All in all I like the way the game has progressed, and while I played a lot of MoP, and I quit WoD early into its life cycle, I still keep coming back, because the effort the developers keep pouring into the game, and their desire to keep the player base happy and realising that a lot of these people have a lot going on in their lives these days and trying to help accommodate for that, as well as the new players to the game, is worthy of recognition. And with the announcement of every new expansion after I’ve hung my bow up several months prior, I always hate myself for saying “yeah fuck it, lets do this again”. I’ll always keep coming back to see what else is new, because the game is that good.

    • “yeah fuck it, let’s do this again”

      This part made me smile 🙂 I work away a lot now so i’m not home much, but with Wow being all over the gaming websites, as well as jumping on and giving hearthstone a try recently, it’s ignited the old flame again. Have an exam to complete on Friday when I get back from work, but after than i’ll fire it up and give it a crack. Maybe i’ll get sick of it after a week, but it’s been good to take a trip down nostalgia ave this swing.

  • Artifact weapons are a bore/chore and invalidate any weapon drops you might happen across; orange drops from world quests (purples aren’t enough anymore for the people who want to play an MMO without the MM); half the classes had their spells and abilities gutted; the game simply isn’t a challenge any more and hasn’t been since BC, and the forum-goers wish they had Ghostcrawler back. Ghostcrawler ffs. At this point I’d take Kalgan.

    • This. I was rather frustrated I couldn’t use hybrid talent setups anymore, and then furthermore, where the fuck have my traps gone!! The ability for a Hunter to crowd control is absolutely paramount! Have had to resort to kiting everything again which isn’t a problem in itself, however the aggressive respawn timers of all the mobs these days means that you really have to pick your paths otherwise you get inundated quickly >.< New challenge to overcome however and enjoying the new mechanic, even if it is annoying hehe

      • I can deal with the lack of challenge outside of a raid/instance setting for the most part and the welfare epics, but they’re slowly bleeding every little bit of complexity out of the game to foolproof it.

        They introduced LFD/LFR and GearScore, and when people started getting kicked cause they couldn’t tank/heal/dps cause they didn’t know what a google was, they started taking stuff out of the game to make it more easily accessible. When people were getting kicked because other didn’t think their gearscore was up to scratch, they locked instanced by item level.

        Can’t hold threat? Let’s give you vengeance.
        Can’t do enough DPS or have too much avoidance and not gen enough vengeance? Lets get rid of hard avoidance stats and vengeance
        Forgot to turn righteous fury on? Lets get rid of righteous fury
        You used Curse of Doom and Immolate instead of Curse of Agony and Shadowbolt even though you’re afflic? Let’s get rid of Doom and Immolate from your spec!
        Low on mana? Good news, mana’s only cosmetic now!
        A little low on the level side and can’t dps as much as your team mates in LFR? Good news, it all scales now!

        The list goes on…

        I don’t think I’ll ever level another alt, at least not until they do away with levels entirely. I started a priest alt and got him to level 9 without turning in a single quest. Would just run about and stick shadow word pain on a bunch of mobs at a time. One tick will kill them. It feels very awkward and strange.

        It really seems they try to cater to the lowest common denominator players and burn outs more than anything else these days

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